These Are the Planets We Could Move to Once We’re Done Completely Destroying Earth

Kepler 186-f is just 500 light-years away!


If you attend any climate change protest these days, you’re bound to see a sign that reads, “There is no planet B.” Even UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has adopted the slogan. “This is our planet Earth. This is a very small planet, if we consider the vastness of the universe,” he told an audience at Climate Week in New York City last year. “There is no plan B, because we do not have a planet B.”

It’s self-evident that the solution to man-made climate change is not packing ourselves into a space ship and heading off to colonize far-away galaxies. Curbing carbon pollution and developing low-carbon energy sources are the generally agreed-upon solutions to help slow global warming.

But, in the distant future, if we really had to leave our broken home for better climes—and we possessed the technology to catapult ourselves to solar systems that are light-years away—where could we go?

Planet-hunting for Earth-alternatives is now in full swing, says Professor Sara Seager, an astrophysicist and planetary scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “We already know about thousands of planets orbiting stars other than the sun, we call them ‘exoplanets,'” she told me via Skype from California. “And I believe there’s definitely a ‘planet B’ out there somewhere, we just have to find it. And right now, myself and others around the world are building the next-generation of telescopes so that we’ll have the capability of finding and identifying another Earth.”

In the video above, you can watch Seager detail three recently discovered exoplanets that have each generated a lot of excitement in the scientific community. These planets orbit their stars in the so-called “Goldilocks” zone. They are not too close to, and not too far away from, their respective stars. That means they are—potentially—hospitable to life. Among Seager’s favorites is the Earth-sized Kepler 186-f, but it’s over 500 light-years away, so humans probably won’t be going there. Closer possibilities include HD 40307-g, a large planet in a solar system with as many as six planets.

So will human explorers ever really make it to an exoplanet?

“I really think somehow, some day, someone will find a way to get there,” Seager said. “But it’s definitely not the solution to the problems on our planet right now.”

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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